Manual Massinger (Critical Heritage Series)

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The earlier note probably dates from , and from this time Massinger apparently worked regularly with John Fletcher. Sir Aston Cockayne , Massinger's constant friend and patron, refers in explicit terms to this collaboration in a sonnet addressed to Humphrey Moseley on the publication of his folio edition of Beaumont and Fletcher Small Poems of Divers Sorts , , and in an epitaph on the two poets he says: "Plays they did write together, were great friends, And now one grave includes them in their ends.

With the exception of these plays and The Great Duke of Florence , produced in by Queen Henrietta's Men , Massinger continued to write regularly for the King's Men until his death. The tone of the dedications of his later plays affords evidence of his continued poverty. In the preface to The Maid of Honour he wrote, addressing Sir Francis Foljambe and Sir Thomas Bland: "I had not to this time subsisted, but that I was supported by your frequent courtesies and favours.

The prologue to The Guardian licensed refers to two unsuccessful plays and two years of silence, when the author feared he had lost the popular favour. It is probable that this break in his production was owing to his free handling of political matters. In , Sir Henry Herbert , the Master of the Revels , refused to license an unnamed play by Massinger because of "dangerous matter as the deposing of Sebastian, King of Portugal," calculated presumably to endanger good relations between England and Spain.

There is little doubt that this was the same piece as Believe as You List , in which time and place are changed, Antiochus being substituted for Sebastian, and Rome for Spain. In the prologue, Massinger ironically apologizes for his ignorance of history, and professes that his accuracy is at fault if his picture comes near "a late and sad example. An allusion to the same subject may be traced in The Maid of Honour. In another play by Massinger, not extant, Charles I is reported to have himself struck out a passage put into the mouth of Don Pedro, king of Spain, as "too insolent.

The servility towards the Crown displayed in Beaumont and Fletcher 's plays reflected the temper of the court of James I.

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The attitude of Massinger's heroes and heroines towards kings is very different. Camiola's remarks on the limitations of the royal prerogative Maid of Honour , Act V, Scene v could hardly be acceptable at court. Massinger died suddenly at his house near the Globe Theatre , and was buried in the churchyard of St. Saviour's, Southwark , on 18 March In the entry in the parish register he is described as a "stranger," which, however, implies nothing more than that he belonged to another parish. That grave can be seen to this day in the chancel of what is now Southwark Cathedral near London Bridge on the south bank of the Thames.

There the names of Fletcher and Massinger appear on adjacent plaques laid in the floor between the choir stalls.

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Next to these is a plaque commemorating Edmund Shakespeare William's younger brother who is buried in the Cathedral, although the exact location of his grave is unknown. The Virgin Martyr , in which Dekker probably had a large share, is really a miracle play, dealing with the martyrdom of Dorothea in the time of Diocletian , and the supernatural element is freely used. Caution must be used in interpreting this play as an elucidation of Massinger's views; it is not entirely his work.


In The Renegado , however, the action is dominated by the beneficent influence of a Jesuit priest, Francisco, and the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is enforced. In The Maid of Honour a complicated situation is solved by the decision of the heroine, Camiola, to take the veil. For this she is held up "to all posterity a fair example for noble maids to imitate.

Conversely, characters in Massinger's plays sometimes masquerade as Catholic clergy The Bashful Lover and even hear believers' confessions The Emperor of the East —a violation of a sacrament that would be surprising for a Catholic. Ransoms review provoked a letter of reply from Allen Tate, who began by attacking Ransoms romantic assumptions about the creative process, assumptions about imagination and inspiration which Tate found superannuate No. Ransom had attacked Eliot because of his failure to achieve a philosophy and because of his discontinuities of form. However, for Tate, it was precisely in the incongruities, labelled as parody by Ransom, that the form of The Waste Land resided, in the ironic attitude of the free consciousness that refused a closed system.

One can see in this debate the fundamental terms of a controversy concerning the significance of Eliots enterprise that is still far from dead. For Ransom, there was, or should be, a natural cohesion between the form of the work and the order of things: the imagination, as Coleridge understood it, was the faculty by which such an order revealed itself in the forms of art. For Tate, the possibilities of such natural discourse were over.

A much later critic, Michael Edwards, put forward in a reading of the poem that may enable us to see the issues at stake more precisely. The poem enacts a movement of spirit that is fundamentally Christian, in its ambiguous and self-contradictory language revealing language itself as fallen, so that the poems scrutiny of itself becomes, at many levels, an act of exemplary recognition, a babble of dissonant voices which registers the most intimate loss that the poem is concerned with, the loss of a just, single speech.

Certainly, the antipathy the poem aroused was strong and violently felt. Clive Bell, for example, an admirer of Eliots earlier poetry, could react to The Waste Land only by way of polite maliciousness, comparing Eliot to Landor in terms. The stridency of tone in reviewers such as Squire, Powell and Lucas, or Helen McAfee in America, seems out of proportion to their consciously asserted devaluation of the poem.

Humbert Wolfe, on the other hand, though not claiming to understand the poem, was prepared to accept it for its beauty and the thrill induced by that beauty No. Munson saw the poem as the funeral keen of the nineteenth century and an aberration from the realities of the twentieth century, which were to be found in America, not Europe No.

The conflict of views over The Waste Land seems to bear out Gabriel Josipovicis judgment in The Lessons of Modernism that Eliots earlier work resists that fundamental temptation, the temptation to ascribe meaning, and derives its power instead from its embodiment of a sense of awakening, an awakening that is always frightening. There was no doubt, however, amongst the hostile reviewers, of Eliots importance, and, as George Watson put it in , admirers and detractors were equally agreed about the reality of his reputation.

Poems making up the final version of The Hollow Men had appeared in Commerce and Chapbook the previous year. Commenting on Eliots reputation at this point in his career, Edgell Rickword, editor of the Calendar of Modern Letters, was in no doubt that Eliots position was unrivalled, at least amongst those awake to the reality of the art No.

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It was as the poet who had come closest to the distresses of a post-war generation that Rickword valued him, an exploration that Eliot had achieved through his struggle with technique, a finer realisation of language which reached its height in The Waste Land, only to become gnomically disarticulate in The Hollow Men. It was the sense of emancipation afforded by Eliots work that was valuable, since it allowed an essential complexity of reaction. Edwin Muir was less certain about the value of the poetry, though he admired Eliots criticism unequivocally. Muirs essay appeared in the Nation New York for 5 August , shortly before the new collection of poems was published.

He found a separation between the critic and the poet, in that Eliot aimed to restore the fullness of Elizabethan poetry, in accordance with his critical insights, but succeeded only in producing a diversity of rich effects:.

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Mr Eliots poetry is in reality very narrow, and in spite of its great refinement of sensibility, very simple. In the main it is a statement of two opposed experiences: the experiences of beauty and ugliness, of art and reality, of literature and life. To Mr Eliot in his poetry these are simple groups of reality; their attributes remain constant; they never pass into one another; and there is no intermediate world of life connecting and modifying them.

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In Muirs view, Eliot aimed at violent contrasts, as in his contrasts between formal beauty and psychological obscenity, that achieved an effect of horror. His poetry was inconclusive and fragmentary, lacking seriousness. Muir attacked Eliot for taking up poses and attitudes, not expressing principles and truths, and yet he admitted the work to be unique.

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This essay was reprinted twice, once that same year in the Nation and Athenaeum, 29 August, and in Transition, a collection of Muirs essays published in New York in Like Muir, Middleton Murry emphasised Eliots critical achievement at the expense of the poetry. Both Woolf and Eliot he considered fine critics, tormented by the longing to create, whose intellectual subtleties gave rise only to futilities. Eliot, so far from being a classical writer, voiced a cry of grinding and empty desolation no classical art could possibly give order to. Murrys sense of Eliots fragmentariness was so strong that he described it as self-torturing and utter nihilism, which only the Catholic Church could understand.

One is forced to recognise that Murrys notion of classicism was limited and that he thought of Christianity mainly in terms of metaphysical certitude, despite his disclaimer in his final footnote. Thus he failed to see the elements of parody and burlesque in Eliot, taking for personal anguish, like many critics at this time and later, what was rather the exploration of new artistic possibilities. What Murry saw in Eliots work was a symptom of the breakdown of civilisation, an expression of the sterility and loss of meaning in modern life. That Eliots poetry at this stage provoked bewilderment, either of irritation or enthusiasm, is witnessed to by I.

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In his New Statesman review for 20 February No. This technique was increasingly evident in Eliots verse, and at its most extreme in The Hollow Men. In Science and Poetry Richards was led to assert that Eliot had effected a complete severance between his poetry and all belief, a view challenged by Eliot himself in , in chapter 7 of The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism. At the end of the New Statesman review, however, Richards seemed confident that in the articulation. This account of Eliots significance was added as an appendix to Principles of Literary Criticism when it was reprinted that same year.

In the USA, Eliots indigenous and religious characteristics were emphasised. For Edmund Wilson, Eliots real significance was less as a prophet of European disintegration than as a poet of the American puritan sensibility, the waste land being the emotional waste land of deprivation and chagrin.

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He saw in Eliots characters figures comparable to those of James and Hawthorne and at the same time insisted that Eliot was a poet of the first order No. These comments come at the end of an essay on the first performance of Stravinskys Les Noces, a context in which thoughts about Eliot seemed not inappropriate. For Allen Tate, the new collection was a spiritual epilogue to The Education of Henry Adams, though in Eliot the puritan sense of obligation had withdrawn into private conscience No.

Eliot, in returning to the source of his own culture in Europe, had been forced to confront that source with a degree of general theoretical understanding no European found necessary. As a critic and as editor of the Criterion Eliot had proposed as a rememdy for the disorder of the times that critical awareness he envisaged in The Function of Criticism Tate regarded the progressive sterilisation of the poetry as due to a rationalisation of attitude carried over from the critical endeavour, the agony of the earlier poetry being reduced to the chaos of The Hollow Men, the inevitable result of a poetry whose fundamental ground was the idea of chaos itself.

Tate saw this as a poetry of ideas, in contrast to Richards, and for him poet and critic were one.